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How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861

(Updated and financialized by Tana Gildea)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee enough to live within our means

So we shall never face the collections fiends

And we can be debt-free at the end of our days.

My 401k can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of our being at an ideal pace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, without going into debt and causing us to fight.

I love thee freely, with all my spending in plain sight.

I love thee purely, with my assets protecting us each night.

I love thee with the passion to invest our assets with good use

Without my old fears, and with a conservative faith.

I love thee without needing jewels,

Or endless stuff like some fools. I love thee with the bonds,

stocks, and security of a good financial life; and, if God choose,

I shall save and invest until we part in death.

Who do you love enough to create financial security for? Hopefully yourself!

To your financial (and Valentine) success!  Tana

Financial Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do.” ~ Aristotle

 

I am obsessed (at the moment) with habits – understanding them, creating them, breaking them, and using them to fuel my success. The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg), Mini-Habits (Stephen Guise), and The Compound Effect (Darren Hardy) all have provided the impetus for this fascination with the powerful psychology of habits. Brian Johnson (optimize.me) and his Habits 101 (and nearly every course he teaches) succinctly and powerfully present the background and the practical wisdom for helping you identify and refine your habits.

 

In the course of actively creating new habits, it occurred to me that all of our interactions with money are likely running on habit – some of those are propelling us toward our goals (auto-saving to our 401k) and some are getting in the way (eating lunch out every time I work in the office.) Today as you go about your day habitually doing the things you do, try to be in the moment when you pull out your wallet or credit card and identify if what you are doing is habitual or consciously-chosen.

 

“Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.” ~ Horace Mann

 

To take it a step further, try to identify all of your financial habits and then classify them as either moving you toward your goals and dreams or pulling you away from them. This one exercise will prove very enlightening. Knowledge is power and once you have the knowledge, it is within your power to take action to break a bad habit, build a better habit, or create a new habit. Duhigg has some great resources on his website and the book is filled with great info – check your library as I’ll bet they have a copy (I was able to download one to my Kindle).

 

The real power, though, is in following Guise’s Mini-Habits advice (or as Martha Beck would say, “taking turtle steps”). Stupid small behaviors are so ridiculously easy to do that you can’t fail. His example was his workout plan of one pushup a day. So easy – why wouldn’t he do it? Boom, 3 seconds, and he has a win! What could your “stupid small” financial habit be?

 

“It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.” 
~ Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

 

Identify your habits; decide which you want to keep and which you want to ditch; replace a bad habit with an empowering habit; make it stupid small; make it a habit; win every day.

 

To your financial (habits that lead to) success!

Tana

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of Tana Gildea and are not to be construed as individual advice or the advice or opinions of Homrich Berg; They should not be considered recommendations as each person’s financial situation is unique to her; they may or may not apply to your situation. If you believe that something communicated may be relevant to your situation, Tana strongly encourages you to consult with your individual tax or financial advisor prior to taking action so that the totality of your unique situation is considered.

It’s Half-Time

Just like that, in what seems the blink of eye, 2018 is half over. We’ve hit halftime of our year and like any good football fan knows, halftime can make or break the game. There are those teams who can come together at halftime, assess what has worked, what has not worked, and make just the right adjustments to close out the game with a win. The big question for each of us: can we assess what is working in our financial lives and what is not? Of course, we can so the real question is will we? We each have to make the choice to come into honesty, invest the time to reflect, to confirm our feelings by looking at the numbers, and to chart a course to get us moving toward our goals.

Ask yourself:

  1. Am I meeting my savings goals?
    1. If not, what is one thing that I can do now to move myself toward my goal?
    2. If I am, can I inch up my goal a bit?
      1. Can I increase my 401k savings by 1%?
      2. Can I increase my monthly transfer to savings by $25/50/100?
    3. Is my debt situation better or worse than on January 1?
      1. If it is better, what is one thing that I can do to speed up the rate of debt reduction? Can I add $25/50/100 to my planned payment?
      2. If it is worse, what is one thing I can do to refocus on my goal of reducing debt?
    4. Is my insurance correct for my situation?
      1. Have I reviewed my home/auto/umbrella to make sure it is appropriate, and I am paying the least amount possible?
      2. Is my life insurance (and my spouse’s) enough to meet the needs if one of us dies prematurely? Do I know when the terms end on my term policies and have I planned to replace it? Are my beneficiaries correct?
      3. Is it time to investigate long-term care insurance?
      4. Is my disability coverage appropriate?
    5. Are my estate documents up-to-date and accurate?
      1. Wills
      2. Financial Power of Attorney
      3. Medical directive/Health Care Power of Attorney
      4. HIPAA privacy release

2018 is half over. AND there is still time for you to meet your goals. Getting yourself on track is a gift to your January 1 self. Think about her and what she needs. Think about how proud she will be if she can answer these questions positively on January 1st. If you want your life to change, your actions must change. It’s halftime. It’s time to make things happen.

To your financial (and 2nd half) success,

Tana

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of Tana Gildea and are not to be construed as individual advice or as the advice or opinions of Homrich Berg; They should not be considered recommendations as each person’s financial situation is unique to her; they may or may not apply to your situation. If you believe that something communicated may be relevant to your situation, Tana strongly encourages you to consult with your individual tax or financial advisor prior to taking action so that the totality of your unique situation is considered.

I’m Glad I Can Cry

“I’m so glad that I can cry in front of my advisor,” a client told me recently. Of course, you can cry! Laugh, rage, pound the table if you want. Her need to shed a few tears had nothing really to do with the dollars and cents; it was the knowledge that her and her husband’s lifetime of saving had provided enough that could help their child who was struggling without unhinging their own goals and dreams for themselves.

Money touches everything in our world – you are sick – money helps; it might not cure you, but it can buy a lot of treatments and specialists and care-givers. Your child is in trouble – money helps for treatments or legal fees or therapists. Your parents are struggling to cover their costs – money helps to buy care-givers and drivers and deliveries. You lose your job – money helps cover your costs until you can land the next job. Have a great passion? Money helps to fund it or develop it or further it.

Everyone knows this; it’s why our whole society is built on the pursuit of the mighty dollar. But when you really stop to look at the list of those items, items that stir up a lot of emotion, items that can move you to tears or fire you up or drive you into action, nowhere is there any of the stuff that we throw in our shopping carts or “one-click” to buy. Yet, so many people give up saving so that they can have the latest this or that or the other thing that will end up at the bottom of a drawer or in a give-away pile or a trash can in no time. I look at my throw-away’s, give-away’s, and “what do I do this” pile and I do want to cry but for a totally different reason!

Are we putting our money toward the really emotional aspects of our lives? Those things that bring tears to our eyes, inspire our most creative selves, change the world, or change our perspectives of it? Are we tapping into the hard-wired emotion of money to get us where we want to be instead of just giving us more of what we already have too much of?

Take a hard look at where your dollars are going and rate the emotional impact those dollars have on your life, your future, and your world. If your “emotional impact” score is not where you want it to be, shift $1 toward something meaningful and significant today. Keep doing that until your dollars inspire you.

To your financial (and emotional) success,

Tana

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of Tana Gildea and are not to be construed as individual advice or as the advice or opinions of Homrich Berg; They should not be considered recommendations as each person’s financial situation is unique to her; they may or may not apply to your situation. If you believe that something communicated may be relevant to your situation, Tana strongly encourages you to consult with your individual tax or financial advisor prior to taking action so that the totality of your unique situation is considered.